Out of tissues for a while now…Part 1

Me and Ricochet, training for Winter Classic 2006

My sister and I have had several horses over the years and used to spend every weekend riding, washing and fussing over our mounts or cleaning tack. We began riding at the place where we still board our horses today. The facility, family owned and operated,  is on 20 acres of woods, out in the country, far enough away from the city that cell phone coverage is spotty at best. It’s a comfortable place, nothing pretentious, and the family lives on the property. The owner breeds Arabians, so naturally, we started out riding Arabians.

I’ve had Richie (my nickname for him) for more years than I can remember. His breed is National Show Horse (NSH), a combination of Arabian & American Saddlebred. Because he’s registered Half Arabian and NSH, I could show him in either type of breed events, so I was thrilled. He came to me fully trained in English Country Pleasure and English Show Hack, with a lengthy show record. He’s probably the most powerful horse I’ve ever ridden, a Cadillac ride, and a real looker too. His one drawback…he was ‘over it’ performing, that is. He hated arena work and couldn’t wait to get out of the gate. He had been to so many shows, that as soon as we went into the arena, he was ‘on stage’ and started performing his routine on autopilot. Once he finished, he was ready to go back to eating hay out in the pasture. I spent a lot of time teaching him to just walk in the arena, but I had to be prepared for prancing, head-tossing, and his ‘let’s get this over with’ attitude. Eventually, I shortened his arena work and started taking him on trails out in the woods. I had some trepidation about being in the woods with him, because a.) I don’t think he was ever ridden on trail and b.) because there are so many critters: squirrels, armadillos, gopher turtles (yes, horses will even spook over a turtle on the path), deer, and the occasional bird flying up out of the bushes. My concern was for naught; he actually let out a huge sigh whenever we entered the woods and he ‘just’ walked like he was on a Sunday looky-loo. As he got older, I retired him from his show career and we just enjoyed being together and in the woods. As I look back over the time we spent together, I realize he taught me how to hang on for dear life, and I taught him how to relax. We had great fun.

to be continued…


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